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Ford Focus, Ranger Have Rollover Risk

Oct 27, 2004 | AP

Two 2005 Ford vehicles, the two-door Focus and the Ranger 4x4 pickup, were the worst performers in new government crash and rollover tests, according to results released Tuesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the rear passenger was at risk of serious head injury when the Focus was hit in the side in a 38.5 mph test. The Focus was tested without side air bags, which a Ford Motor Co. Web site lists as a $350 option on the vehicle.

NHTSA gave the Focus three out of five stars for driver's side protection and four out of five stars for rear passenger protection, the lowest ratings among cars tested. Those ratings didn't reflect the potential for head injury because NHTSA's side-impact ratings consider only chest injuries. A five-star rating means the likelihood of serious injury in a similar crash is 5 percent or less; three stars means the likelihood is 11 to 20 percent.

The Ranger 4x4 and its corporate twin, the Mazda B-Series 4x4, earned two stars in NHTSA's rollover ratings, the lowest of the 10 2005 pickups tested. NHTSA said the Ranger and the B-Series have a 30.6 percent chance of rolling over in a crash. The ratings consider the vehicle's height and weight and its performance in a 35 to 50 mph test with a sharp turn.

Ford spokeswoman Carolyn Brown said Ford plans to study the new data but believes the Focus and the Ranger are safe and perform similarly to comparable vehicles. Brown added that Ford thinks NHTSA is using faulty methods to predict chance of rollover.

"The calculation that NHTSA is using is based on a model that includes outdated information and is not capable of producing real-world results," she said.

NHTSA released crash test results for seven passenger cars, one pickup and one sport utility vehicle and rollover ratings for one crossover vehicle and 10 pickups. The agency chooses vehicles to test based on popularity and other factors.

The 2005 Subaru Outback, which NHTSA classifies as an SUV, was the only vehicle that earned five stars on all front and side-impact tests. The Outback was tested with its side air bags since they are standard.

The 2005 Chrysler 300 and its corporate twin, the Dodge Magnum, also were high performers, earning five stars on the 35 mph frontal crash test and the rear passenger side-impact test. Neither vehicle was tested with side air bags, which are a $590 option on the Chrysler 300 and a $390 option on the Dodge Magnum.

Two-wheel and four-wheel-drive versions of the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Dodge Ram pickups each earned four stars in the rollover tests. NHTSA said their percent chance of rollover was between 17.9 and 19.8 percent. The Ford Ranger 4x2 and Mazda B-Series 4x2 fared better than the four-wheel-drive version, earning three stars and a 21.9 percent chance of rolling over.

The Ford Freestar crossover earned four stars and has a 14.7 percent chance of rolling over.

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